Re: Please have mercy...
Netbooks were originally small cheap computers (SCCs, El Reg used to call them), which were supplied without Windows; instead they had a basic version of Linux installed on them. They had SSDs to improve boot speed and, of course, limited storage. The first real netbook, I think, was the EEE701; another early one was the Acer Aspire One. They were around £250, which was pretty cheap at the time.
These machines were quite successful - to the extent that Microsoft decided that they were a threat to them. I may have the precise facts wrong here - let someone who knows better correct me - but my understanding was that they enabled a very basic version of Windows 7 to be installed on similar machines at a very low price. This meant that people were able to get Windows boxes at a similar price level - normally with larger, non-SSD boxes.
Now, what SHOULD have happened is that demand increased and the prices would drop. What actually happened was that the Windows boxes sold well (familiar) and the Linux boxes didn't. But what then also happened was that people found the boxes didn't run Windows very well - after all, they were not particularly powerful machines. So netbooks got an undeserved reputation of not being very useful. The prices also never did drop - two, three years later, they were still the same basic spec, for £250.
And then the iPad came along and everyone thought they wanted tablets. So bye-bye to Netbooks.
The Chromebook is an attempt to reinvent the netbook concept. It has more chance of succeeding as (a) people understand that you can't easily get Windows on them, and they are not designed for Windows. They don't even have the same keyboard layout: (b) tablets mean that people are now used to the idea that you don't HAVE to have Windows, so long as it works; and also people have realized that tablets are all very fine, but most of the time, a keyboard is better: (c) they are built to start quickly, be secure and restart quickly. None of this Windows lark of installing patches and rebooting - which with an old netbook could take up to half an hour! (d) they are supported by a name that people know and trust (I know, I know, but people do trust Google).
I loved the original concept of netbooks, and I was sorry to see them die.
I love Chromebooks even more, and in our family we use, most of the time, nothing else.